Donna and Nesbit Johnson have been married 49 years, but they’ve never had a proper wedding.

When they first tied the knot as college students in 1972, they went to the courthouse, ate a celebratory lunch at the pub and then Donna was back in class by 4 p.m. That night, Nesbit returned to his dorm because Donna forgot she’d invited friends from out of town to stay at her place. The guests took the beds. She slept in the bathtub.

Donna always wanted a do-over, but weddings are expensive, and the timing was never right. Then her daughter, Desiree Knoch, surprised her mom with an all-expenses-paid vow renewal.

“If I had the means, I wanted to make sure my mom had the wedding of her dreams, where she could get married anywhere,” Knoch said.

The couple planned their nuptials for spring 2020 at A Tasteful Place overlooking White Rock Lake and the Dallas skyline.

“The Arboretum is my favorite place to go in all of Texas,” Donna said. “I love flowers. When I was in high school, they called me the flower girl. It’s a beautiful, serene place no matter which part you’re in.”

When the coronavirus pandemic shut down Dallas last March, the family regrouped and decided to postpone a year. Then in February, Donna and Nesbit contracted COVID-19 and became very sick. Donna recovered well, but Nesbit is still weak from the disease and has a long road to recovery.

“I said, ‘I can’t believe you did all this to get out of this vow renewal,'” Donna said.

The couple renewed their vows Saturday in front of 75 (masked and socially distant) guests at the Arboretum. Donna’s grandson walked her down the aisle as Knock stood at her side as matron of honor. The couple’s son served as the best man.

They incorporated Queen of Hearts details into the wedding in a nod to Nesbit’s magic tricks that stole Donna’s heart.

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